How to choose a university

There are approximately 130 universities in the UK, and around an additional 240 further education colleges also offering university level courses, which means you have over 350 institutions to choose from when thinking about higher education… So what should you consider when deciding where to go? Below are some of the key points to contemplate when researching different institutions:

The course

This has to be number one. Does the university have the right course for you? Keep in mind that unlike schools and colleges, universities do not follow a curriculum and so courses in the same subjects may cover different elements and modules at each university.

The location

Where is the university in relation to the town/city? Is it a campus-based university, so all on one site (a bit like a school or college but on a larger scale) or is it in the centre with the university buildings dotted across the city? At the University of Plymouth we have the luxury of being a campus university but right across the road from the main city centre so we have the best of both worlds.


Check out what facilities it has for your course. Is the library open 24 hours? How big are the computer rooms? But also what are the facilities like for any extracurricular activities, such as sports centres and outdoor facilities.

Sports clubs and societies

Ask about the sports clubs on offer, and what competitions they take part in. Or if sports aren’t your thing, then ask about the different societies. At Plymouth, we have societies for our different courses as well as the Disney Society, Harry Potter Society and Knitting Society (and many more)… there really is something for everyone.


What accommodation can the university offer? Catered or non-catered, how many rooms per flat? If you want to live in halls, it’s worth finding out if they are guaranteed for first years.


If you want to get a part time job, a placement or just gain some work experience whilst you study then it’s worth considering what support and advice there is at the university in helping you gain employment.

Doing your research is important, but going and seeing the university for yourself is critical. Once you have an idea of which universities you may like to apply to, book on to an Open Day and go and have a look around to check it lives up to your expectation and you can see yourself living there.

Got a question about UCAS, the application process or university life? Tweet our Outreach and Recruitment Officer Lois Tucker using the hashtag #AskLoisAtPlym and she will be happy to help.

Student Life magazine: Summer 2016 issue 3